Longhorns advance to quarters
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Two was Basalt’s lucky number Thursday in the opening round of the Class 3A State Boys Soccer Championships, as the Longhorns downed Fountain Valley 2-1 at the BHS field.
Midfielder Cy Eaton had two goals, and goalie Jamie Wirkler stitched up the win with two brilliant saves in the final two minutes of the game.
“It’s incredible,” Eaton, a junior, said. “There’s nothing better than to win at home in front of our fans – it’s the best.”
The victory launched BHS into the quarterfinals of the playoffs, where they’ll face the winner of today’s Salida vs. Denver Lutheran match.
While the Longhorns dominated the time of possession, consistently pressuring Fountain Valley in the first half, the game was scoreless at the break.
Sanchez, the Longhorns sensational sophomore forward, had several shots on goal, but most followed long sprints that drew Fountain Valley’s goalie out of the net for a challenge.
“Those sprints are lethal, they kill me,” Sanchez said later.
But they paid off.
Eaton’s first goal came off a rebound as Fountain Valley’s goaltender and Sanchez simultaneously converged on the ball. The ball slipped through the goaltender’s gloves and onto Eaton’s cleats.
“I just tapped it in,” Eaton said.
Minutes later Sanchez was taken down by a defender inside the Fountain Valley goalie box, resulting in a penalty kick. Eaton took the kick and easily beat the goalie for the game-winner.
“It’s the same routine, I never change my spot,” Eaton said about penalty kicks. “It’s just repetition, like free throws.”
Up 2-0 midway through the second half, Basalt played defensively and on their heels, giving Fountain Valley more opportunities than they deserved. When Fountain Valley scored with about 10 minutes left – a chip shot over Longhorn goalie Wirkler – the ‘Horns found themselves playing desperate preventive defense, instead of their usual, calculated style.
Eaton said the Longhorns have unfortunately fallen into that trend at the end of games. Asked if they would work on that before their next match, Eaton replied, “Yeah, we need to for sure.”
Basalt head coach Erik Streff credited Fountain Valley with the game-ending surge.
“[Fountain Valley] stepped up big at the end,” Streff said.
But so did Wirkler, a sophomore, who took heavy fire in the final minutes and came up with two fingertip saves in traffic to secure Basalt’s place in the quarterfinals.
“Jamie always comes up big for us in the end,” Eaton said. “He’s a great goalie.”
Wirkler said he was just doing his job.
“My coach told me not to let another one by,” he said.
Basalt, seeded sixth in the state tourney in a field of 16, improved their overall record to 12-2-1. No. 11 Fountain Valley finished at 8-5-2.
The time and site of Basalt’s next match will be determined after the outcome of today’s Salida-Denver Lutheran match, with No. 3 Salida the clear favorite at 14-0 on the season. (The quarterfinal game must be played by Wednesday.)
“We have as good a chance as any,” Eaton said. “We just peaked; hopefully it gets better from here.”
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